Throughout Robert Guerrero's boxing career, the Gilroy native has had a strong supporting cast to buffer bad times and celebrate the good.
No one has been more prevalent and instrumental through all of it than father and trainer Ruben Guerrero, the driving force behind The Ghost's world championship ascent – and a man that will always be in his son's corner one way or another.
The two share a bond layers deep – father-son, trainer-boxer and friend to friend. Their teamwork is undeniably one of the links to the success Robert (29-1-1, 18 KOs) has had in the ring. His lead-by-example personality has rubbed off on Robert, a husband and father of two who has dealt with personal and professional heartache in unwavering fashion.
Ruben Guerrero doesn't mix words. He doesn't soften a verbal blow. He's coarse with the truth and a boxing know-all with the chops to hang with anyone when it comes to promoting the guy he feels ranks above the rest.
Engaging in any conversation, Ruben tells it how it is and how it should be – including his belief that Robert Guerrero will be in the best shape of his life when he steps inside the ropes and goes toe to toe against undefeated Turkish slugger Selcuk Aydin (23-0-0, 17 KOs) on July 28 in San Jose for a Showtime-televised bout for the WBC Interim Welterweight crown.
Ruben, 54, took time out of his busy schedule at training camp in Lake Tahoe to chat with me Friday afternoon. He immediately advocated The Ghost’s physique and preparation, gave some insight on what’s been taking place at camp – including a weekly run up the peak at Squaw Valley for an hours worth of shadow boxing at high altitude and “seven, eight, sometimes 15” rounds of mitts – and graciously spoke of the duo's always-entertaining relationship during our 30-minute conversation.
Josh Weaver: How do you describe your relationship with Robert?
Ruben Guerrero: I'm his dad. He listens to everything I say. We have been working together since he was a young kid and he is very comfortable with me. So we have a real good relationship. We get along real good, you know? He has a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for him. We have fun together. We are best friends, him and me. We sit down and talk and work everything out. I'm his role model. I'm his dad and trainer and he has a lot of faith in me.
JW: Do you think that is why the two of you work so well together, the combination of respect and a little fun, too?
RG: We are just a big happy family when we train.
JW: The father/son, trainer/boxer thing doesn't always work.
RG: Me and my son, we click. I love him he loves me. We are a tight family, you know. He's a good son to me and I'm a good dad to him.
JW: Do you remember how old Robert was when he started hanging around the gym?
RG: Like, 9 years old, barely. He was in and out of the gym. His brothers were boxing and he liked it. I kept training his brothers and I kept my eye on him. I let him make his own decision and he went ahead and boxed.
JW: Were you a boxer yourself?
RG: Oh, yeah, I used to box at the youth center in Gilroy.
JW: So how's training camp going?
RG: Training camp is going excellent right now. Robert is looking really good. He's ready to go. He can fight tomorrow. That's how good he's looking.
JW: What gives you the indication that Robert is where he needs to be for this fight?
RG: The high altitude – we've been running a lot of mountains up here. We have been doing a lot of good work. We are just maintaining right now because we want to hit that peak just right. I don't want to over train him. He is looking super strong so I have to watch out because I don't want him to pull any muscles.
JW: So what do you do to maintain?
RG: I monitor him to make sure he isn't over running or over training. I cut down on the sparring a little bit because he is ready to go. These are the last two weeks of grinding and what we do is train lightly, then another day train hard, and I keep it like that.
JW: Are you doing anything different training wise?
RG: No, we are keeping everything mostly the same. (Aydin) isn't really one of those guys who boxes a lot. He's a straightforward guy. So we are just doing what we did with the (Michael) Katsidis fight – just giving him different angles and using the jab a lot.
JW: That leads into what you have seen out of watching film of Aydin.
RG: The thing that we are looking out for is that he is a real strong guy – a big puncher. We just have to watch that right hand. He's got a pretty good left hook also.
JW: What do you do to stay in shape?
RG: Oh, man, I have to be in top shape because Robert is so quick, so fast. We'll go out and I drop him off about seven or eight miles out. I meet him half way and run back with him. I do push-ups with him, I do sit-ups with him and I do a little bit of weights to strengthen up my shoulders. I eat the same things he does, I take the same vitamins and that's why I am always in top condition. He’s eating like a king too, man. I’m flipping steaks for him every time. I can’t find big enough steaks for him to eat. I’m a professional making all these steaks for this guy. We barbecue every day.
JW: What do you guys talk about when you're out there running?
RG: We just go out there and have fun. We talk a little, look out into the forest and watch for bears.
JW: Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk. Anything else you want to add?
RG: We are going to be super ready for this fight. I have nothing to worry about. No doubt in my mind that we are going to win this fight.